Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 440, 819-829 (2005/9-4)
The sub-damped Lyα system toward HE 0001-2340: galaxy formation at z≃2.
RICHTER P., LEDOUX C., PETITJEAN P. and BERGERON J.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present a detailed analysis of chemical abundances in a sub-damped Lyα absorber (sub-DLA) at z=2.187 towards the quasar HE0001-2340 (zem=2.28). Our study is based on high-resolution (R≃45000) spectroscopic data from the UVES instrument installed on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). This sub-DLA system consists of at least 25 individual subcomponents spanning a restframe velocity range of ∼400km/s. The total neutral hydrogen column density is logN(HI)≃19.7. Detected species include CII, CIV, NI, NII, OI, MgII, AlII, AlIII, SIII, SIIV, PII, FeII, and possibly DI. For the dominating neutral gas component at vrel=+13km/s (relative to z=2.187) we derive an oxygen abundance of [O/H]=-1.81±0.07 (1/65 solar). With its extremely low nitrogen content ([N/H]≲-3.3 and [N/O]≲-1.5) the absorber exhibits a classic massive star abundance pattern. Our measurements place the z=2.187 absorber towards HE0001-2340 among the systems with the lowest ever measured [N/α] ratios. The low [N/O] value is consistent with the idea that primary nitrogen production by the very first stars have enriched the intergalactic gas to a level of [N/O]≃-1.5. Peculiar abundances are found in the outermost blue components near -350 km/s (in the z=2.187 restframe) where we observe significant overabundances of phosphorus ([P/C]≃+1.5), silicon ([Si/C]≃+0.6), and aluminum ([Al/C]≃+0.5) after correcting for the effects of ionization. Our study suggests that the line of sight passes through the gaseous environment of one or more stellar clusters that locally enriched their interstellar neighbourhood by supernova ejecta generating the observed abundance anomalies. The large velocity spread of the entire absorption system points to a merger that triggers the formation of these clusters. We thus may be observing a young galaxy at z≃2 that is forming out of a merger event.
cosmology: observations - Galaxy: abundances - Galaxy: evolution - quasars: absorption lines
[RLP2005] QSO J0003-2323 abs N.NNN N=1. Table 3: [RLP2005] QSO J0003-2323 abs N.NNNNN N=25 = [RLP2005] AN (Nos A-P, A1-A3, B1-B3, C1, E1).
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